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The Worst Advice I’ve Ever Received

Everybody needs a little guidance now and then. We are all heroes, but sometimes our capes

get caught. 

There will always be an inspirational Instagram post, a best friend giving you a pep talk or

Wikihow to hold your hand through your problem. But how many times have we seen the

post, heard the friendly speech or read the help and thought ‘I’m not sure about that’? It’s

important to remember that, just as my size 6 shoes won’t fit your size 3, advice that works

for me might not work for you. 

When I asked myself what the worst advice I’d ever received was, I struggled to think of just

one thing. Even some of the generic English idioms ‘keep your friends close and enemies

closer’ or ‘curiosity killed the cat’ are questionable. Why be close to your enemies and why

not be curious in a world where there’s so much to question? 

Let’s start by questioning what exactly is wrong with being told you are too kind, making the

first move and forgiving but not forgetting.

‘You’re too nice’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to blow my own trumpet and I’m nowhere near an angel.

But this phrase doesn’t sit well with me. In a world where you turn on the news and your

living room is flooded with horror stories – stories of communities who are not being

supported, lives that are not being saved and a planet that’s being destroyed – kindness seems

like it’s much needed. 

Did you know it’s healthier for you to be kinder? According to Dr. David R. Hamiliton, when

completing kind actions it releases oxytocin, a hormone that releases chemicals dilating your

blood vessels. Yes, being kind lowers your blood pressure. It doesn’t stop there, oxytocin

increases self-esteem and optimism. This is because of ‘helper’s high’, named after research

from Emory University; the uplifting feeling we get from helping others. Dr. R Davidson

from University of Wisconsin even compared learning to be kind to weight training, asserting

that becoming compassionate is ‘like building muscle’. 

Of course, continually being overly forgiving, accepting or tolerant may allow others to take

advantage of our ‘niceness’ and label us a pushover. But someone who continues to choose

kindness is surely pushing forward, not being pushed over?

‘Let them make the first move’

Have you ever made the first move? University of California San Francisco found that only

25% of the women they spoke to make or had ever made the first move. Interestingly though,

the same study found 72% of men resent the traditional stereotyping and would appreciate

women making the first move from time to time. Classic, heteronormative romance tropes

and narratives dictate that the man should be transfixed by a beautiful woman, and that it’s up

to him to charm his way into her good books. Think of Shakespeare’s Romeo, mesmerized by

Juliet, pushing through the crowd to say ‘She doth teach the torches burn bright!’.  

But everyone wants to be wanted: why should it only be women who are made to feel

wanted? The feminist movement is fighting for equality of all sexes. This means we all need

to put a shift in and get a graft on. 

The idea of being rejected is scary, but imagine if you’re not! That’s when your own Romeo

and Juliet story begins (but hopefully with less bloodshed and a happier ending).

‘Forgive and forget’

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” states

American writer Mark Twain. 

Forgiving can be a freeing experience. It can be a deep breath, an acceptance of reality and a

decision to move forward. In a 2016 study, Toussiant found that those who were more

forgiving on average experienced less stress. Another researcher named Enright deduced that

mental health improved significantly when people were more forgiving. I support forgiveness

– but not forgetting. Here’s why.

Everyone has been burnt. You put the flame out and rise from the ashes. But we shouldn’t

forget how the fire started or we will forget the strength we had to put it out. 

All our experiences are valuable, they piece together the person we’re meant to become. You

live and you learn, as they say. Whether the experience is painted grey or painted rainbow,

they are all colours in your palette, waiting to help create your next masterpiece. 

Go spread kindness, find your love story and forgive but don’t forget!


Words by Elena Cotton

Artwork Credit: Holly Warburton

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